| 25.10.2021

Doctoral thesis: Powerful CEOs facilitate better workplace safety

There are several recent cases where influential CEOs, such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Amazon’s previous CEO Jeff Bezos, have received criticism for poor workplace safety. A new study investigates whether CEO power is detrimental to workplace safety.

Workplace injuries creates a substantial cost for society. The estimated annual cost of workplace injuries and illnesses in the US is greater than the cost of all cancer combined. Workplace injuries is also a problem for companies as well as the workforce since workplace injuries affect worker quality of life and company profitability.

Fredrik Huhtamäki presents results in his doctoral thesis that show a positive relationship between CEO power and workplace safety and health. The study also shows that when CEO power increases, workplace related injuries and illnesses decrease.

"The results show that Musk and Bezos are non-representative when it comes to powerful CEOs and workplace safety. Greater CEO influence generally leads to better workplace safety", argues Huhtamäki.

Most corporations use a corporate structure with one person serving as the CEO. However, several well know corporations, such as Netflix and Zalando use a leadership structure with more than one CEO. Shared leadership has received little attention from finance researchers. Huhtamäki has bridged this gap by also investigating the relationship between shared leadership and corporate risk taking. The study shows that shared leadership is related to lower risk taking.

"Shared leadership seems to make monitoring of the CEOs difficult and increases the conflicts between shareholders and management. This may be an explanation why few corporations use dual CEOs such as Netflix and Zalando”, says Huhtamäki.

You can read the entire thesis via this link.
The public defence takes place on 29 October 2021 at 12 (noon) EEST.

Opponent: Professor Stefan Sundgren, Umeå University
Custos: Professor Kenneth Högholm, Hanken School of Economics

More information:
Fredrik Huhtamäki